And Tiger Woods finishes tied for fourth. And we scratch our heads.
What, we ask, does Woods need to do to win the Player of the Year award, the last bauble of any real meaning available to him now that the four majors on the regular tour are completed?
It is a question that badly misses the point. Remember those semantic arguments they used to have in other sports like baseball and football about the difference between Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player?
Well, heres a flash: Tiger Woods is golfs Most Valuable Player even if he doesnt push another peg in the ground for the rest of the season, silly or otherwise.
He was the PGA Tours MVP in 1996 even though he didnt turn professional until late in the campaign. He was MVP in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. He will be golfs MVP for the foreseeable future as well. You can book it.
Not that that necessarily will make him feel any better. I think he put too much pressure on himself in the majors this year. He didnt allow the game to come to him. MVP status means little to him.
But the other players know how important he is to their tour right now just the way the players in the late '50s and '60s knew how important Arnold Palmer (and, to a slightly lesser extent Jack Nicklaus) was to their tour way back when.
And too often lately we have forgotten this. We come up with elaborate explanations, justifications, defenses and attacks on the subject on why he doesnt win every week. This is not fair.
Woods is the games Most Valuable Player because he has raised golfs already high profile to an entirely different level. And he has kept it there. And it says here that he will keep it there for a long time.
He will also use this major championship drought to his advantage. He is terribly good at channeling negatives into positives. By the time next years Masters rolls around he will have so much pent-up desire to get back on the major bus, that we may see a performance reminiscent of his tour de force Masters victory in 1997 or his seminal victory at the 2000 U.S. Open.
Until then lets take it easy on Tiger. And heres my only piece of advice to Woods on any of this:
Until then, Tiger, take it easy on yourself.